Feel Good Sunday: Photobombed by Horses

by R.T. Fitch

“Last week a reader dressed me down, just a bit, for deviating off the course of equine advocacy with our traditional “Feel Good Sundays” and a part of me is in full agreement, BUT we will continue to attempt to bring a smile to your lips and an uplift to your heart on this day of rest.  Granted, we may slam an article of concern down on the table later in the day but at least we can start the day with a little bit of equine sunshine.  Have faith and please be safe, my friends.” ~ R.T.


If you are fortunate enough to live with horses and donkeys, or at least visit them often, you are well aware of the multiple and different personalities that each of them poses.  Every one of them is as unique as a snowflake and twice as special and with that singularity often runs a strain of comedy, every pasture has a class comedian or village idiot; that’s what makes life so very special.

Just a few quick glimpses to share with you, today, to reinforce the opinion that when it comes to horses a comedy show is not far behind.

“CHEESE”

 

First up is a young woman who thought she was taking a happy picture standing in front of her horse when just as the shutter clicked, or iPhone, the horse broke out into his own happy smile that, if you look closely, appears to match that of his human buddy.  Remarkable.

 

“SMILE”

 

 

 

Another one of my personal favorites is a big ole Drafty who decides to add a little extra to a family photo taken of a little girl who is standing in front of him.  As a guardian of a big ole Belgian/TB cross I can tell you that there is a funny, and gentle, gene that resides in their great big, giant hearts.  One of the most remarkable things I have observed about horses is how they react and become so very gentle around human children.  It is stunning.

 

 

A camera is a sure fire way to ensure that the “Hey, look at ME!” syndrome is quickly awakened in any equine as comically demonstrated in the video below.

And in conclusion, I offer firm evidence that I know of what I speak as Terry and I were continually interrupted by one of our equine children as we attempted to tape an outreach segment, at our home, for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.  I share this video with a heavy heart as the antagonist is our Harley, a former racing TB who suffered a slab fracture to his left front knee and was on his way to the Kaufman, TX slaughterhouse until his owner intervened and entrusted us to give him a new life.  We did just that for almost 20 years until his bad TB feet could no longer bear him.  Drugs, abuse and greed surround horse racing but I digress.  He gave us years of wonderful companionship and comic relief because he always was the big “Sh*tstirrer” in the pasture.  We all miss him greatly.

This video is long but Harley owns the beginning and he most certainly is in charge of the finish.  Thank you Harley.

Zinke’s Plan to Slaughter Wild Horses and Burros Now Expanded to Sage Grouse and Beyond

Unedited Story from Western Values Project

Secretary Zinke’s proposed changes would be devastating, it would harm the $1 billion outdoor recreation economy on sage-grouse habitat and endanger not just the sage-grouse, but the other iconic species like mule deer, elk, and pronghorn that depend on a health sagebrush ecosystem.

Two years ago today, history was made when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the greater sage-grouse did not warrant a listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) due to the finalization of strong, science-based Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land management plans.

Those plans were the product of collaboration amongst stakeholders including ranchers, governors, conservationists, sportsmen and sportswomen, local elected officials, and industry officials. They were a promise to work together in keeping with the tradition of working the land, by maintaining responsible and sustainable methods to keep the sage-grouse from needing a listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Two years later, the future of the plans is now unknown. In an attempt to dismantle the plans, Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Department of the Interior (DOI) have decided that the West does not know what’s best and therefore have intervened to inject their own agenda is these already established plans. Their agenda pushes the interests of the oil and gas industry, and a few select members of Congress who are determined to have energy development dominate our public lands.

Secretary Zinke’s proposed changes would be devastating, it would harm the $1 billion outdoor recreation economy on sage-grouse habitat and endanger not just the sage-grouse, but the other iconic species like mule deer, elk, and pronghorn that depend on a health sagebrush ecosystem.

Instead of ignoring years of hard work and collaboration, Secretary Zinke should recognize the stakeholders who worked for years on these plans, not ignore them in favor of oil and gas lobbyists. Rehashing existing plans and starting from zero is another half ditch attempt by Washington to overstep its bounds. Secretary Zinke and DOI are even ignoring the advice of western wildlife managers and scientist, who have made clear that the plans do not need major changes.

But Secretary Zinke is only focused on serving himself and corporate special interests.

As Westerners celebrate this two-year anniversary, their message to Secretary Zinke is loud and clear: stop attempting to destroy years of hard work, instead support the plans.

http://westernvaluesproject.org/two-years-in-zinke-scraps-sage-grouse-plans-for-special-interests/

Zinke’s national monuments plan a threat to Western communities

In this photo taken April 26, 2017, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks at the Interior Department in Washington. Ryan Zinke is recommending that the new Bears Ears National Monument in Utah be reduced in size. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Source:  Western Values Project

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Secretary Zinke’s secretive effort hands over thousands of acres of public lands to special interests with no accountability

After weeks of secrecy, the results of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s monuments review have been revealed.

Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, released the following statement in response: 

These recommendations put at risk our way of life in the West by threatening access to public lands. This sham review from Secretary Zinke has been unpopular from beginning to end, and it will continue to be met with opposition by the vast majority of Westerners and Americans.”

It is telling that Secretary Zinke has shrouded his recommendations in secrecy for weeks, and didn’t have the backbone to release them himself. At the end of the day, the law is clear that the President lacks the authority to arbitrarily shrink national monuments at the behest of special interests in Washington and a handful of anti-public land zealots.”

poll conducted by Western Values Project found that Secretary Zinke’s already low job approval rating fell seven points in his home state of Montana after the announcement of his national monuments review. Western Values Project ran a six-figure television and digital advertisement campaign to hold the Secretary accountable for his actions.

A national poll conducted last month found that only 17 percent of Americans believed the review should have even been conducted, while 75 percent overwhelmingly support continued protections for these monuments.

‘No Results Found’: Thousands of Climate Science Links Purged From USGS Online Database

Source:  Ecowatch.com

Yet another U.S. agency has deleted climate change information from its website. This time, the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Science Explorer” website—a tax-payer funded online database for the public to browse USGS science programs and activities—has been purged of thousands of formerly searchable climate science links.

The startling discovery was made by Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and member of the U.S. National Academy of Science.

“I didn’t realize how badly Trump has eviscerated access to federal #climate data, so I went and looked at the USGS site,” he tweeted Sunday.

In a series of tweets, Gleick noted the extent to which climate-related links have been expunged from the site a month after Donald Trump took over the White House:

  • In December, there were 5,932 climate science items linked there (9 were just pictures). Today there are 416 and 292 are just pictures.
  • In December 2016, 320 of those items were links to #climate data. Today, 0 links to data. 5,271 were web links. Now, 0 web links. “And the USGS “Effects of #Climate Change” webpage had 2,825 items in December. Today, that page has zero items.
  • And the USGS “Effects of #Climate Change” webpage had 2,825 items in December. Today, that page has zero items.

Gleick found the archived pages with the Wayback Machine, but pointed out on Twitter that “archived pages are no substitute for real public access.”

He also told ThinkProgress: “This is shocking in the extent of the changes, and distressing in the sense that publicly funded data and science should be easily accessible, not hidden, and the changes move us in the wrong direction. Every federal agency website has undergone changes like this.”

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Public Records Sought on EPA, Beef Lobby Collusion to Weaken Water Protections

Press Release from: Biological Diversity.org

Livestock operations have polluted 35,000 miles of U.S. rivers and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Each year American beef production creates 489 billion pounds of manure.

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a Freedom of Information Act request today seeking communications between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and beef-lobbying groups. The filing seeks information about EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s participation in a promotional video for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association in which he urges ranchers to flood the agency with comments in favor of repealing the Clean Water Rule.

“It’s bizarre and appalling that our nation’s chief environmental official starred in a beef-industry infomercial attacking protections for our water supplies,” said Jennifer Molidor, a Center senior food campaigner. “Americans deserve to know why Pruitt would support the private interests of this incredibly polluting industry.”

Livestock operations have polluted 35,000 miles of U.S. rivers and contaminated groundwater in 17 states. Each year American beef production creates 489 billion pounds of manure. Improperly stored manure creates toxic byproducts that frequently leak into rivers, lakes and streams. In addition 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of fertilizer used to grow animal feed leak into waterways.

The Clean Water Rule, a clarification of the Clean Water Act ordered by the Obama administration, prohibited the dumping of waste in “navigable waters” without a permit. The rule exempts most agricultural drainage ditches.

As the attorney general of Oklahoma, Pruitt sued to halt the rule. Industry groups filed similar lawsuits. In all cases the rule was ultimately upheld.

“Pruitt took office already determined to slash Obama-era safeguards like the Clean Water Rule without concern for the dangerous fallout of losing these protections,” said Molidor. “It’s the EPA’s job to protect our environment from big polluters, not the other way around.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2017/beef-lobby-09-14-2017.php

The Big Win in Wyoming

Source: Western Watersheds Project

Welfare Ranchers Get a Boot in the Butt!!!

Western Watersheds Project is not primarily known for its defense of the U.S. Constitution. We tend to focus on federal laws and policies relating to the environment and public lands. But now, thanks to a Tenth Circuit Court win and a successful but protracted battle in Wyoming, you can count us among the defenders of free speech!

It all started when Jonathan Ratner, our dedicated Wyoming Director, started gathering evidence of livestock-caused water pollution on public lands and submitting his data to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). His results of significant fecal coliform contamination were so threatening to the political establishment of the “Cowboy State” that rather than clean up the water, Wyoming ranchers started to seek ways to shut us up.

In 2014, anti-environmental attorney (and potential Trump pick to lead the Bureau of Land Management) Karen Budd-Falen and a group of ranchers claimed Jonathan must have trespassed on their private property in order to gather water quality samples from public lands grazing allotments. She wound up the loser. This frivolous lawsuit was resolved in 2016 through a settlement agreement that ultimately penalized the ranchers through their legal fees, and WWP agreeing to follow the same laws it always follows regarding private lands.

Then, in 2015, the Wyoming DEQ decided not to accept any of WWP’s data: “Any submission submitted by such organizations should not be accepted due to their inherent bias towards one of Wyoming’s leading economic industries.” If an organization cares about water quality and native fish habitat more than cows, the data be damned.

Also that year, the DEQ decided to change the rules about E.coli in 76 percent of the waterways in the state – effectively legalizing the extreme pollution levels that Jonathan had been documenting. The rule change, requested by the livestock industry, went into effect in February 2017 despite broad opposition by non-ranchers, recreational users, and federal land management agencies.

In addition to working against WWP and the public’s interest in healthy waterways, the Wyoming State Legislature decided to take special interests’ right to wreck the environment to another level by passing legislation making it illegal to cross “open land for the purpose of collecting resource data.” WWP and our allies were alarmed by the fact that the laws – dubbed “Jonathan’s Laws” by our staff – would seek specifically to punish people who intend to communicate data to the government; this is a restriction on free speech and targets a specific class of citizens (data collectors) in a way that the U.S. Constitution prohibits.

After the Wyoming legislature modified the laws in 2016, Wyoming had our case in District Court dismissed. But WWP and our co-plaintiffs weren’t fooled by the tweaks in language, and we appealed the case to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court’s dismissal and concluded that plain reading of the statute demonstrated that Wyoming was seeking to regulate an activity that occurred on public land and that resource data collection is within the definition of the creation of speech – protected under the First Amendment and essential to public participation in numerous federal environmental statutes. The case now goes back to district court.

Wyoming counties have also taken up the charge to block public access in public lands. In Lincoln County, for years the public used a county road to reach the Raymond Mountain Wilderness Study Area on public lands. In 2013, the county sold a strip of land along the road to an Idaho rancher and subsequently made the private portion of the road impassable. According to emails revealed in litigation, this was done specifically to block WWP’s access to a long-troubled grazing allotment.

WWP is enormously grateful to our attorneys at Public Justice and our co-plaintiffs National Press Photographers Association and Natural Resource Defense Council for standing with us on this appeal. We’re also enormously proud of Jonathan Ratner’s work to expose and address the harmful impacts of public lands livestock grazing in the “Cowboy State.”

While we wait for this next round of litigation, we hope that Wyoming’s next move is simply to clean up its act and stop letting the livestock industry foul the state’s precious waters with impunity. 

https://www.westernwatersheds.org/

Fighting Wildlife Crime amid Bureaucracy and Solutions

In 2016, a Minnesota man was found guilty of smuggling objects made from elephant ivory.

SOURCE:  PPJ Gazette

by Sam Jojola

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Background

“This article was originally published for World Animal News in November, 2015 and titled “Wildlife Crimes: Why Is It So Difficult to Enforce Laws”. This is an updated version that includes reference to a 2016 GAO report detailing the shortcomings and successes of combating wildlife trafficking. It often seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same. There are some positive changes, but they are slow.”

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Global Anti-Poaching Act of 2015

The passage of the Global Anti-Poaching Act (H.R. 2494) through the House on June 25, 2015 was long overdue and very encouraging news for wildlife law enforcement. It will greatly assist in addressing the rapid expansion of wildlife criminal syndicates and terrorist groups globally. Finally, after decades of “paralysis by analysis” there is some political motivation in the U.S. to deal with the exponential growth of wildlife crime here and around the world. Why has it taken so long?

The most recent GAO report dated September, 2016 titled Combating Wildlife Trafficking: Agencies are taking a range of actions but the task force lacks performance targets for assessing progress: http://www.gao.gov/assets/680/679968.pdf

Perhaps there will be another GAO report this year to show measurable progress.

Layers of bureaucracy and political meddling

When one examines the primary agency responsible for investigating wildlife crimes on the federal level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement (USFWS/OLE) has been and is the lead entity to do so. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is primarily a biological entity under the umbrella of the Department of the Interior that oversees a host of at least nine (9) agencies, like the U.S. Park Service (USPS), the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to name a few. The USFWS/OLE is just one of fifteen (15) National programs managed by USFWS. In essence many layers of government within the Department of the Interior which is not a law enforcement entity like the Department of Justice. Other law enforcement agencies like the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, and the Secret Service, are not under the umbrella of a non-law enforcement entity that can sometimes run political interference and impede wildlife investigations and protection.

There are a number of glaring examples over the decades where political meddling by high level non-law enforcement leaders were persuaded by the interests of well-connected trophy hunters or landowners to “bend the rules” and give a seized hunting trophy back or not pursue an investigation into violations of federal wildlife laws. You won’t find these examples on the Internet as they are buried in the minds of former agents like myself or in obscure articles from the 1980’s and 1990’s hidden in library archives or this amazing October, 1996 29 page account from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER): https://www.peer.org/assets/docs/whitepapers/1996_tarnished_trophies.pdf

Here is a more recent account of a colleague of mine who was forced into retirement several years ago after he reported political interference and scientific misconduct in USFWS: http://www.hcn.org/articles/u-s-fish-and-wildlife-whistleblower-retaliation-case-raises-questions#commenting.

Just Google “USFWS political meddling into wildlife science based decisions” and a disturbing pattern of pages emerge over the years where politics overrides the protection of key species such as Grizzly Bears, Wolves, Wolverines and other species of concern.

Historical Neglect of Federal Wildlife Law Enforcement

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Chemical companies have already released 1 million pounds of extra air pollutants, thanks to Harvey

Source:  The Washington Post

A refinery in East Houston on Wednesday. Hurricane Harvey pushed thousands of people to rooftops or higher ground. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Oil refineries and chemical plants across the Texas Gulf Coast released more than 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants in the week after Harvey struck, according to public regulatory filings aggregated by the Center for Biological Diversity.

While attention has zeroed in on the crisis at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Tex., other facilities — oil refineries, chemical plants and shale drilling sites — have been reporting flaring, leaks and chemical discharges triggered by Harvey.

Emissions have already exceeded permitted levels, after floating rooftops sank on oil storage tanks, chemical storage tanks overflowed with rainwater, and broken valves and shutdown procedures triggered flaring at refineries.

The chemicals released in the week after Harvey made landfall, including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, hexane, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, toluene and xylene.

All seven chemicals are toxic air pollutants documented to harm human health; several cause cancer. Other emissions would bring the total to more than 5 million pounds, the Center for Biological Diversity said.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

 

Russ Mead, Esq., V.P. and General Counsel of Animal Law Coalition, talks about wild horses & burros and advocacy, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 9/6/17)

painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us on Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen to the archived show (HERE!)

You can also listen to the show on your phone by calling (917) 388-4520.

You can call in with questions during the 2nd half hour, by dialing (917) 388-4520, then pressing 1.

This show will be archived so you can listen to it anytime.

Our guest tonight is RUSS MEAD, Esq., the Vice President & General Counsel of Animal Law Coalition, a 501(c)4 that lobbies for legislation in support of animal welfare. Its mission is to advocate for animals to live free of cruelty and neglect. His legislative advocacy work includes grass roots organizing, lobbying, and media promotion.  Russ talks about wild horses & burros and advocacy.

Russ has served as General Counsel for two of the nation’s leading non-profit animal sanctuaries: Best Friends Animal Society, the largest no kill companion animal sanctuary in the U.S. and Farm Sanctuary, the first farm animal sanctuary in the U.S. At Best Friends, Russ set up the rescue operation compound for hurricane Katrina where 6,000 animals were rescued. His work has included rescues from animal hoarders, puppy mills and dog fighting cases, including the Michael Vick case.

Russ is married to Laura Allen, who is also an animal rights attorney and President of Animal Law Coalition. Together they have the Seattle based law firm of Allen & Mead. Russ and Laura balance this law practice with their animal rights and animal welfare work.

See Russ Mead’s paintings on russmead.com

This show will be hosted by Debbie Coffey, V.P. and Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs for Wild Horse Freedom Federation.

To contact us: ppj1@hush.com, or call 320-281-0585

TO LISTEN TO ALL ARCHIVED WILD HORSE & BURRO RADIO SHOWS, CLICK HERE. Continue reading

Wyoming BLM Fails to Analyze Climate Impacts of Oil and Gas, Yet Again

SOURCE:  climatewest.org

By

Last week, Guardians submitted comments on Interior Secretary Zinke’s and the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management’s proposal to hold two oil and gas lease sales in March of next year.

Instead of turning over a new leaf in 2018, the Wyoming BLM is planning to giveaway 125,000+ acres of public land for fracking in the Wind River/Bighorn Basin District (northwestern Wyoming) and 48,000+ acres in the High Plains District (eastern Wyoming).  Not surprisingly, based on the draft environmental analysis, Wyoming fails again to fully analyze the climate change impacts from the lease sales.

The Wyoming BLM continues to refuse to analyze the cumulative climate impacts even when the lease sales are occurring at the same time and in the same state (not to mention the 1 million plus acres leased in the West 2017).  And, Wyoming continually touts the benefits of oil and gas while failing to even attempt to look at the social costs of releasing more carbon into our atmosphere (a requirement that two courts recently re-affirmed).

Read the rest of this article HERE.